Impact of hypertension severity on arterial stiffness, cerebral vasoreactivity, and cognitive performance

ABSTRACT. Aging, hypertension (HTN), and other cardiovascular risk factors contribute to structural and functional changes of the arterial wall. Objective: To evaluate whether arterial stiffness (AS) is related to cerebral blood flow changes and its association with cognitive function in patients with hypertension. Methods: 211 patients (69 normotensive and 142 hypertensive) were included. Patients with hypertension were divided into 2 stages: HTN stage-1 and HTN stage-2. The mini-mental state examination (MMSE), Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and a battery of neuropsychological (NPE) tests were used to determine cognitive function. Pulse wave velocity was measured using the Complior®. Carotid properties were assessed by radiofrequency ultrasound. Central arterial pressure and augmentation index were obtained using applanation tonometry. Middle cerebral artery flow velocity was measured by transcranial Doppler ultrasonography. Results: Both arterial stiffness parameters and cerebral vasoreactivity worsened in line with HTN severity. There was a negative correlation between breath holding index (BHI) and arterial stiffness parameters. Cognitive performance worsened in line with HTN severity, with statistical difference occurring mainly between the HTN-2 and normotension groups on both the MMSE and MoCA. The same tendency was observed on the NPE tests. Conclusion: Hypertension severity was associated with higher AS, worse BHI, and lower cognitive performance.